Fearing split, pastors urge GOP candidates to quit

By THOMAS BEAUMONT | December 28, 2011 | 6:16 PM EST

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two politically active pastors in Iowa's robust evangelical conservative movement say that an effort is under way to persuade either Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann to consider quitting the Republican presidential race ahead of next week's caucuses.

The hope is that one would endorse the other to avoid splintering the influence of this influential voting bloc.

The pleas represent a fear among a group of evangelical conservative voters that this year's caucuses could be won by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or Texas congressman Ron Paul.

Neither Romney nor Paul track as closely to the religious right as Santorum, Bachmann or Texas Gov. Rick Perry.